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Top tips to keep your divorce out of the workplace

Going through a divorce can have far reaching impacts on our life. The impact on health and wellbeing have been widely reported, as have recent press coverage on suggested impact divorce can have on your career.

When I read this article I thought the tips were very sensible. As a family lawyer I am conscious of the need to make sure meetings and calls are scheduled at times convenient for my client's work and home commitments. For some court hearings it is possible to file dates to avoid if you are unable to attend due to specific unmoveable work or family commitments.

If you need help or advice regarding divorce or separation, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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Luckily, a small silver lining of divorce is that it is absolutely possible to preserve your career during and after divorce. The following tips should give you a good base for maintaining professional success.
Update: Surrogacy and Single Parents

Under UK law, if you want to start a family with the help of a surrogate then you must obtain a court order after your child is born, which transfers legal parenthood from the surrogate to you as the intended parents. 

Under the law as it stands, only a couple can obtain a parental order. They are not available to single parents. A single parent who wants to have a child through surrogacy must go through the adoption process instead in order to acquire legal parenthood. Unsurprisingly, this has been found by the courts to be discriminatory and contrary to human rights law. 

The government has now issued an update on the steps it is taking to change the law and allow single parents to obtain parental orders. The parliamentary order needed to make the change is being drafted, and the government plans to introduce it to parliament before the end of this year. Watch this space.  

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Update: Surrogacy and Single Parents
The 'Master Gene' that could make IVF more effective

Scientists in London have made a breakthrough in their understanding of how one gene, known as OCT4, is crucial in the development of human embryos. 

The team at the Francis Crick Institute believe that this knowledge of how OCT4 works could be used in the future to encourage stronger embryo development, reduce the risk of miscarriage and make fertility treatment more effective. However, this will probably prove controversial as it involves a 'DNA editing' procedure, and it will need to be closely monitored and regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. 

It is estimated that as many as 1 in 10 babies born in the UK are now the result of fertility treatment, and this is likely to increase as outcomes continue to improve. The legal complications around parentage often need careful attention, particularly when donated eggs or sperm have been used in the process. 

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DNA editing in human embryos reveals role of fertility 'master gene'
Ryan Giggs - genius and something special?

Ryan Giggs' divorce reached the first formal stage last month, known as decree nisi; and there is a court timetable in place in relation to the financial matters.

However, it's not just because of Ryan's high profile as a footballer that the case is highly publicised.

When it comes to resolving the financial matters and in doing so, considering both parties contributions, he has said it is his intention to argue that he is a "genius" and his footballing skills over his 29 year career have led to his estimated £40m fortune; And that this amounts to a "special contribution" that justifies a financial settlement in his favour.

This is only one of several factors that are considered when looking at the finances.  Cases that have gone through the Courts, where this aspect has been examined in detail, have provided us with some guidance, including the need to consider:-

•The 'special contribution' approach should only apply in "wholly exceptional" circumstances;

•Such a contribution will only lead the court to stray from equal division where it would be inequitable not to do so;

•The amount of the wealth must be "so extraordinary that it is easy for the party who generated it to claim an exceptional quality"; and

•The amount will not be enough, there must be other exceptional elements.

In short, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding how "special contribution" arguments should be treated.  The starting point is fairness and more often than not, that means equality.  

It's rare for "special contribution" to be run and run successfully and it's only in very exceptional circumstances. 

I know all family lawyers await the outcome of the Giggs' case with some interest.. Will the Court consider his contribution to the footballing world as so "genius" that it justifies a settlement in his favour?

Interestingly, Holman J said when considering an earlier case of Work v Gray, at first instance in 2015, "It may one day fall for consideration whether a very highly paid footballer, who is very good at his job but may be no more skillful than past greats, such as Stanley Matthews or Bobby Charlton, makes a special contribution or is merely the lucky beneficiary of the colossal payments now made possible by the sale of television rights.”

Well - watch this space for developments!

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Former Manchester United and Wales star Ryan Giggs's estranged wife Stacey has been granted a divorce.

Mrs Giggs, 39, was granted a decree nisi during brief proceedings in central London on Friday.

Their names appeared as Giggs SA v RJ in a short list of other couples for the "making of a decree or order" under matrimonial and civil partnership proceedings by District Judge Yvonne Gibson at the Central Family Court in High Holborn.

View of a child of divorce

For many years family lawyers have been trying to find ways to help parents separate keeping the needs of any children as their focus.

Reading this article reminds us why. This article is written by a man, 14 years after his parents divorced. His ability to recall the conversations and his worries show the impact this has had on him.

The tips given are sensible advice, but a priority must making sure the children are not used as a weopen again the other parent.

Arrangements for children can involve a great deal of emotion. Mediation can be a practical solution for resolving these issues.

Www.freethsoxford.co.uk/mediation

If you need any assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.

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In this newfound but undesired role, children make decisions knowing that one party will take issue with their choice. It is a constant stream of compromise. Retaining responsibility for such matters is key to parents ensuring children are protected, even if the task seems trivial or pedantic, or requires you to communicate with your pesky ex. If children are living in fear of upsetting one of you, it is a breeding ground for anxiety. And venting or directing your anger at your children when it stems from, or is intended for, your former partner will chip away at their self-esteem. Take the burden out of their hands where possible.
Australia starts its same-sex marriage vote

After a lot of campaigning the polls are now open to the Australian public to vote on the creation of same-sex marriage.

This vote will only decide whether there will be a direct debate about this in parliament or not.  From a British perspective this is an extra step that wasn't used for amending our own legislation.  

Even so there are concerns about the public opinions it will unleash in Australia, to the point that laws have been introduced to prevent hate speech.

We have had same sex marriages taking place in England and Wales since 29 March 2014, and public support has been increasing year on year for LGBT rights according to the independent polls.  

If that same-sex married couple later separate and divorce then the procedure for ending their marriage in England and Wales is almost exactly the same as a heterosexual couple.

It is important on any divorce, same-sex or heterosexual, for the couple to settle their financial arrangements.  In particular, all divorcing married couples should have a financial order made by the court, either by consent or imposed by a judge.  This is the only way to have a binding financial settlement.

Otherwise they remain at risk of potential future claims even after the divorce has completed. You would be surprised at how many people I have met who are in just that situation, long after they thought matters were separated, creating uncertainty and unexpected costs.

If you or someone you know would benefit from advice as a result of marriage or divorce, please do contact me on 01865 781115 or gemma.nicholls-webber@freeths.co.uk. For more information please see our guide at http://www.freethsoxford.co.uk/divorce_and_family_finances.

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"We want this process to be fair and for Australians to get the opportunity to have their say in an appropriate environment," Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said.

More than 16 million Australians are eligible for the survey, which asks one question: "Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?"

People have until 7 November to cast their vote by mail with the results expected on 15 November.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said parliament will debate changing the law if it is supported by a majority of Australian

Does the new divorce petition form lead to more adultery accusations?

It has been just over a month since the new divorce form, which starts divorce proceedings has been introduced. 

There are now guidance notes on completing the form on the right hand side of the boxes you have to fill in; and concerns have been raised about whether individuals completing the form (without the benefit of legal advice) are more likely to name the person who their spouse has committed adultery with when citing adultery as the fact for the breakdown of their marriage. 

In 2015, figures showed adultery was cited as the reason for divorce in over 12,000 cases.  When advising a client in relation to divorce, it's rare I would advise my client to name the person their partner had an affair with because they are then party to the divorce proceedings and this can make proceedings more complex.

Whilst the new look form is intended to be easier for individuals representing themselves to complete I understand the concerns that the way section 8 of the form is drafted, many could be tempted to name the person their spouse had an affair with but only time will tell the impact of this, if so. 

If you're considering getting divorced or have received paperwork from your spouse - please feel free to contact me if you'd like some clear and concise advice on 01865 781183 or elizabeth.stocker@freeths.co.uk 

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A new "DIY" divorce form designed to speed up the process could lead to thousands more people being accused of adultery, lawyers warn.

The new form, which was introduced on Monday, prominently includes a dedicated section for a petitioner to fill in the details of "the person your partner committed adultery with".

Anyone named on the form becomes party to the case and receives a letter letting them know why - leading to the possibility that many more people could receive documents telling them they have been accused of adultery.

Applicants do not have to name the person they believe tempted their partner to stray - but experts are concerned that many more could fill in the section either through misunderstanding or deliberately, to get back at their former partner. 

Louise & Jamie Redknapp - quickie divorce?

Recent tabloids have covered the story of Louise and Jamie's marriage split, with reports Louise is after a "quickie" divorce. 

However, despite beliefs to the contrary - a quickie divorce doesn't exist.  

The divorce process usually takes between 3-5 months to complete, although most don't actually finalise their divorce until they've reached an agreement about their finances and that agreement has been made legally binding on them both.

Our website has more details about the divorce process: http://www.freethsoxford.co.uk/divorce_solicitors

and your options for sorting out your finances: http://www.freethsoxford.co.uk/divorce_solicitors. 

If you'd like to discuss your situation in more detail, please call me or a member of our team who are always willing to have an initial discussion on the phone.

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They were both seen stepping out earlier this week with their wedding rings firmly on.

But new reports now claim that Louise Redknapp is keen to end her marriage to Jamie as soon as possible, with a quickie divorce.

Single Parents and Surrogacy

This recent case illustrates the need for urgent reform of the law on surrogacy arrangements. 

In UK law, the surrogate mother who carries and gives birth to the child is the legal parent. The intended parents can only become the child's legal parents by obtaining a court order transferring legal parenthood from the surrogate (known as a 'parental order'), after the child has been born. 

At present, parental orders are only available to couples, and not to single parents. The family courts have already declared this incompatible with human rights law. This means that the government should act to change the law and allow single people to become parents through surrogacy arrangements. However, it has not yet done so. 

The result is sad cases like this one. The intended parents separated during the pregnancy, and the intended father decided he no longer wanted anything to do with the child, leaving his ex-partner as the only intended parent. Despite that fact that the intended mother still wanted to become the child's legal parent, and the surrogate mother wished to transfer legal parenthood to her, the court could not make a parental order in favour of the intended mother as she was no longer part of a couple. 

The intended mother, the surrogate mother and the child will all be stuck in legal limbo until the law is changed. The status quo simply cannot continue for much longer.  

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M v F & SM (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008) [2017] EWHC 2176 (Fam)
Divorce and your career

Reading the allegations Katie Chapman, Chelsea Football Ladies Captain, has made against Mark Sampson is a stark reminder that divorce can impact on more than just your immediate finances.

The majority of new clients I see are very focused on the practicalities of separating assets and arrangements for children.  Katie's comments show that even after the "dust has settled" there can be longer term issues.  Thinking long term and looking at what differences there may be on your earning capacity, career opportunities and childcare arrangements and the impact this may have are an important part of the discussions that will take place with your lawyer during the process.  

More information about the process and how the court consider these issues can be found at:-

http://www.freethsoxford.co.uk/how_do_i_resolve_financial_issues 

It would be interesting to know if any divorced male professional footballers have been treated in same way as suggested by Katie....

If you would like a initial call about divorce or the options available, please give me a call on 01865 781182

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The 35-year-old midfielder, a mother to three boys aged between four and 14, earned the last of her 94 caps in April last year.

“I had the conversation with Mark regarding my divorce,” Chapman told several national newspapers. “He was very supportive. He said ‘take a little time to manage that situation and get yourself sorted’. Off the back of that conversation I haven’t been picked. I haven’t been selected since.

“I’ve gone through a divorce. I think that might’ve played a little part, going through that, managing with the children and stuff. It shouldn’t cause a problem but I think it potentially could be part of the reason.

Dr Foster.... divorce at its worst?

The BBC drama that gripped us 2 years ago returned this evening, now seeing the couple divorced.

Despite the divorce having been concluded and time passing the drama shows the hostility and anger that can continue for many years after divorce. This clearly has physical, mental and emotional consequences on both spouses, but most worryingly on the children.

Only one episode in, it is obvious that Tom, the 15 year old child of Dr Foster and her former husband, is already being used as a pawn in the games of revenge between the couple in this drama. Unfortunately this is not uncommon. In such situations the long term consequences for the child are significant.

There is a better way to deal with these issues. Mediation and Collaborative law offer methods to enable couples to discuss the issues and make joint decisions in the best interests of a child. The child (depending on age and circumstances) can be involved in the mediation process. Focusing on what is best for the children often forces parents to look past the anger or resentment they may feel as a result of the end of the relationship.

More information about mediation can be found at:-

Www.freethsoxford.co.uk/mediation

Let's hope poor Tom comes out of this series with parents thinking about the impact of their actions on him....

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Grandparents' rights

I was recently asked to provide some advice for GrandparentsPlus about the rights grandparents have to see and be involved in their grandchildren's lives. A link to the blog is attached below.

Grandparents are regularly involved in their grandchildren's' lives, often providing childcare and help on a day to day basis.  If the parents of the grandchildren separate the changes to the arrangements can be very upsetting for the children and grandparents.  

More information about arrangements for children can be found at www.freethsoxford.co.uk/children or feel free to give me a call if you have any queries.

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As a grandparent you do not have parental responsibility for your grandchild. The parents would normally have parental responsibility and as a result are able to make the decisions about the day to day care and welfare of the child unless the Court makes an alternative order. 
Ex-wife of property tycoon loses plea to increase £3.5m divorce payout

In this latest case, the Court of Appeal has refused an appeal by the wife, Mrs Hart, to overturn a 2015 judgment, which gave her husband a larger share of the family wealth, which totalled £9.4m.

Whilst Mrs Hart raised issues of non-disclosure by Mr Hart, and Lord Justice Moylan said there were 'deficiencies' in his evidence about the extent of his assets, the decision has turned around the £2.6m that Mr Hart brought to the marriage, which he has kept.

It is usual in cases like this, where one person has brought significant wealth into the marriage, for that financial contribution to be taken into account in the final settlement by the court, although whether this results in an adjustment to exclude any part of it from division depends very much on the particular circumstances.

In my experience the outcome often comes down to the evidence produced by the parties, and detailed preparation.  Based on her evidence Mrs Hart was not able to convince the judge that her husband's non-disclosure was sufficiently significant or that she needed more than £3.5m by way of settlement. 

As always, the  best way to keep as much control as possible over the outcome is to agree a settlement through negotiation rather than have it decided by the judge.  This will also help to keep costs to a minimum, bearing in mind that the parties in this case have spent more than £500,000 on lawyer's fees.  And of course always consider a pre-nup!

For more information about how court proceedings work please see our guide at http://www.freethsoxford.co.uk/court, and if you or someone you know would benefit from advice about protecting pre-marital wealth or financial settlements on divorce please do contact me on 01865 781115 or at gemma.nicholls-webber@freeths.co.uk.

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Karen Hart, 61, complained the original settlement after the breakdown of her marriage to millionaire John Hart, 82, was “the worst possible result”.

But a judge ruled that Mr Hart was already wealthy before the marriage and entitled to keep a greater share of his fortune.

India court bans Islamic instant divorce in huge win for women's rights

An Islamic practice permitting men to instantly divorce their wives has been declared unconstitutional by India’s supreme court after decades of campaigning by women’s groups and victims.

The “triple talaq” has allowed Muslim men to dissolve marriages by pronouncing the word “divorce” three times.

A national survey conducted in 2015 by the BMMA found roughly 1 in 11 Muslim women were survivors of triple talaq, the vast majority receiving no alimony or compensation.

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The supreme court in Delhi took up the issue last year in response to a petition from seven victims and women’s groups. A majority of the bench declared on Wednesday that triple talaq was “not integral to religious practice and violates constitutional morality”.

Campaigners hailed the supreme court’s 3-2 decision as a huge victory for India’s 90 million Muslim women.
Civil Partnership or Marriage?

A heterosexual couple who want to enter a civil partnership instead of getting married have been granted the right to take their case to the Supreme Court. The earlier courts concluded it would not be right to allow the couple to become civil partners, as civil partnership legislation was greater for same sex relationships. However, the Court of Appeal has suggested that despite rejecting their request there was a potential breach of the couple's human rights.

The legal consequences of marriage and civil partnerships are the same, but campaigners for civil partnerships argue that marriage includes notions of patriarchy and religious connotations.

More information about civil partnerships can be found at www.freethsoxford.co.uk/civil_partnership

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me.

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Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan, who have a daughter and another child on the way, argue that not all families are comfortable with marriage, but want the "financial and legal protection" that a civil partnership provides.
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